The end of a year brings on the making of many a list: lists of things to try in the new year; lists of things to do or not to do, to be or not to be; lists of books from the ending year that you should have read, or movies that you should have seen. But my favorite are the lists of the music that you should have rocked your socks to in the last twelve months.
Now, I am a huge music fan. HUGE. And I'm not immune to putting on an air of music snobbery and becoming enamoured of the best band you've never heard. But, I also love ABBA. So, without further ado, and in a somewhat haphazard order, these are the albums that rocked my socks in 2010:
And while those listens may have been enjoyed with no particular order, there was a definite and very clear top two, and a most definite number one:
The bulk of the year's listening, from road trips, beach days, city days, and days around the house, were soundtracked by Charlotte Gainsbourg and She & Him. But hands down, my socks were rocked the hardest by Arcade Fire.
Wishing you good songs and happy ears in 2011, dear readers!
On Sunday, after all of the presents had been opened, relatives had been visited with, meals had been eaten, and yuletide cocktails drunk, a fluffy blanket of white fell across the entire Philadelphia area.
The bulk of the day was spent inside, wrapped up in blankets, reading Vogue and watching the snow fall.
On Monday, I pulled on my boots, my scarf, and my gloves, gathered up my camera, and took a very cold walk through the city.
Christmas is in three days!!! There is one thing, one twinkling, sparkling constant that can bring me to my happy place when out amidst all of the hustle and bustle, or faced with the mountain of tasks that always seems so insurmountable at this time of year. One sweet little melody that lulls me into a state of holiday bliss, and sets me right again. And it would be this:
There's a chance of snow this weekend. A tiny chance, but it's there nonetheless. With much dashing to and fro, presents and ingredients to be bought, people are in a panic. And understandably so. Last year when there was a chance of snow the weekend before Christmas, we wound up with nearly two feet on the ground.
I've adopted a "what will be, will be" attitude. It's not so much about the presents or other things that can be bought. It's all about the spirit, the mood of the season. And I can't think of anything much merrier than a bit of white outside the windows. Have a cozy weekend, dear readers!
Last year, I spent the entire month leading up to Christmas dealing with a no good situation by doing a bit of stress baking. And by a bit, I mean that I filled two 20 gallon plastic tubs with various and assorted cookies, cakes, candies, and other tasty treats. At first, friends and loved ones were thrilled to be receiving yummy little home made treats. But by the third week or so, the daily gift of baked goods began wearing a bit thin.
The funny thing about the baking thing is that it is really only a recently discovered talent. I don't cook. At all. But one day, something possessed me to bake an orange cake. And it was Uh. Mazing. So, I made some cookies. Equally amazing. And so it went. And I discovered that the only time I can really shut off my brain is while baking. I can get it pretty close to shut off in yoga class, but baking provides the complete and total absence of any thought not pertaining to what I am doing. And I've discovered other joys along the way, such as what the 10,000 or so songs in my ipod sound like all shuffled together, and how many fabulously fast-talking old black and white movies Netflix has available for instant watching. I've also discovered that I have quite the inquisitive palate when it comes to tasty baked treats.
So, armed with my music, a stack of interesting recipes (ginger chips, anyone?) a pretty apron, and the ability to watch Auntie Mame on my laptop! In my kitchen! I am setting off, deliberately later this year, to fill the bellies of those I love with some fresh baked Christmas cheer. Now, if I could only convince someone to come and wash all of these dishes...
Found and purchased: The world's tiniest Christmas tree. It's not a shiny aluminum tree, and it's definitely not painted pink. Just a good old-fashioned wooden tree, waiting to be decked out with twinkling lights and sparkly baubles.
So, last week, when I was all sick and stuff, I spent the bulk of my time wrapped up in my Snuggie. Yes, I said Snuggie. What of it? It's a blanket. With sleeves. And let me tell you ,those sleeves are convenient. Also convenient? The two large pockets across the front. They're perfect for holding things like tissues and snacks. While convenient, though, the Snuggie does not look particularly attractive. For instance: mine is blue, and I look like a giant melting Smurf. It's something you need to hide should there be an unexpected knock at the door. However, this offering from Urban Outfitters? I'd stick a flask in the pocket and wear it to the movies.
I have a rather tight-knit circle of family and friends to whom I'm pretty close. And we share things, this little circle and I. Things like sweaters, books, cds, the occasional recipe. Sometimes, we share other things. Rather unsavory things, like germs. And lately, we've been doing a lot of that unsavory sort of sharing. 'Tis the season for giving (and re-gifting), and we've all been getting right into that spirit with this nasty little cold we've been passing around since Thanksgiving, rendering most of last week completely useless.
I've decided to rid myself of this little "gift" at any cost. Juice, sleep, and Tylenol didn't seem to be doing the trick, so a nice brisk walk through the city seemed worth a shot. It was one of those cold early winter days, where the sun is bright, but not too bright, and the blast of cold shooting through the air made even center city Philadelphia seem clean and smog-free. I have to say, it seemed to help. I mean, it at least knocked the cold out of my head. Unfortunately, it landed in my chest.
So, after a completely useless week, and a weekend spent bundled up inside watching old movies and playing a bit of catch-up, I'm happy to be back on track on this fine Monday morning. I have a desk full of pretties waiting for their finishing touches, and little Etsy shelves waiting to be filled. Armed with my iPod and enough orange juice to fill a bathtub, I'm setting off for my creative space and a happy day full of making pretties. Welcome to a new week.
Today is a rather warm, windy, pelting rain kind of day. A seemingly ugly day. But not to me. After November ended in a whirlwind, December is finally here! You see, when my sister and I were little, Christmas merriment wasn't allowed to begin until December 1st. Otherwise, our mom would've had the two of us bouncing off the walls for entirely too long a period of time. Once December got here, though, we could start talking Santa and trees and presents, and sing carols 'til our hearts were content. This, like so many of the things instilled upon us by our parents during childhood, is a rule by which I still very loosely abide.
But today is the day. December is here, and the decorations are coming out. Antique glass balls are being oh-so-carefully unwrapped, garlands are being hung, and vintage nesting Santas are being un-nested. Cheesesy old black and white movies are playing in the background (think "The Bishop's Wife" and "Miracle On 34th Street"). I'm pretending that the weather outside, while frightful, isn't so much balmy and wet as it is cold and snowy. The cozy comforts of home are being transformed into a magical winter wonderland. And you can rest assured that tonight, when I go to sleep, visions of sugar plums will most definitely be dancing in my head.
Hello there, dear readers! Did you have a wonderful weekend? I sure did. The three "f"s were in place: family, friends, and food. All was good.
Now. Way back in the spring, when I started my little Etsy shop, I wondered a lot of things. Most of them, like, "Will I ever sell anything?" or, "Can I even figure this out?" have been answered (the answer? Yes!). But I wondered other things. Like..."What's it like to be in one of those awesome treasuries that is super hot and stays at the head of the pack for days? Or weeks?" I also wondered what it might be like to be one of those wildly successful sellers with many packages to send out, and e-mails and requests to tend to. Well, this weekend, I got, tucked neatly in alongside heaping plates of leftovers, a taste of both of those wonderings. I found myself in this hot little collection curated by the super sweet Cara from Fanciness on Etsy. She rocks. And her beautiful collection got super hot. And I got super busy with sales, requests, and things to mail. And it was awesome.
In fact, it was such an awesome experience, I felt the need to celebrate. So, I put on my party shoes, poured myself some egg nog, and fired up the laptop, and set about putting the shop into party mode. And you're all invited to the party! I'm celebrating with a bit of free shipping. You have until clocks strike midnight across Philadelphia tonight to take advantage. Happy shopping!
My dear readers, before I lock myself away in the kitchen, I wanted to take just a quick minute to give thanks. And today, I am feeling mighty thankful for the Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, ready-made pie crust, Martha Stewart, She & Him (Volumes Both- fabby baking soundtrack!), and the ability to watch movies through Netflix on my laptop...in the kitchen! For these things, I am truly full of thanks.
In all seriousness, dear readers, I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! All of you, no matter where in the world you are. Even if tomorrow is just another Thursday, take a moment and consider at least one little thing you are thankful for. We all have something, whether it's food, clothing, and shelter; the love of family and the good people in your life; or the perfect shade of lipstick. Be thankful for that. Have a wonderful, fabulous, feast of a weekend.
It's a week for trying new things, apparently. Not the least of which is that I'm making my first pies for Thanksgiving! Pumpkin, of course. Keep it simple. I'd like to tell you that I'm using a real, pumpkin-patch grown pumpkin. But I'm not. The thought of scraping out the inside of a can was so much more appealing than the thought of scraping out the inside of a pumpkin. I'd also like to tell you that I'm making my own crust. Again, I'm not. I mean, I'm a pie first-timer. Let's not get carried away! I'd also like to tell you that I'm making my own whipped cream. And I might. I did buy cream. And a can of Ready-Whip.
I'm also trying new things in the studio. It started with pictures. It was a veritable doily-fest in my little shop! So I'm working on that. Also being worked on in the studio is a fun little idea I got while cleaning out my sewing basket. Which is funny because it's a rather large basket, and I don't really sew....
It seems I collect vintage buttons. I wasn't really aware of this, but, when presented with all of these buttons, it became quite clear that I do. Now, not being a sewer, I really don't have much use for all of these buttons. So...
I got out some supplies, and my trusty awesome epoxy, and got to work. I rather like the results. A bit quirky, kinda fun, and most definitely granny chic. They'll popping up in the shop over the next week or so.
Try something new today. You might like the results!
Happy Friday, dear readers! Bee is hitting the road this weekend. I'm packing up the lovelies, loading up the car, and dashing off to sell all of my inventory at a merry holiday bazaar. (A girl can dream, can't she?) I've also been thinking a lot about ginger ice cream, and how delicious it would probably be. Imagine it, after the turkey and stuffing has been cleared, dolloped alongside a big old chunk of pumpkin pie. There's a chance, albeit a small chance, that I will be attempting to make that. We'll see how that goes. Have a delicious weekend!
It happens every year, about two weeks before Halloween: I get possessed by the Christmas Spirit. At first, it's just little bubbles: a craving for egg nog, and urge to watch "White Christmas." But those bubbles keep getting bigger and bigger, and finally, by November first, we're at a full boil. Sure, I try to keep up an autumnal front. On the outside, I'm all pumpkins! and acorns! and pretty falling leaves! But on the inside, it's more like candy canes! tinsel! and pretty glass balls! I do my best to keep the merriment on the down low. I'll casually slip gift ideas into conversations, and let that lead where it may. I'll pretend to be aimlessly wandering around Target until woops! How did that happen? We're in amongst fake trees and glittery ornaments.
I'm usually pretty good at keeping up this front until the day after Thanksgiving. As soon as that Friday hits though, all bets are off. It's Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year! But this year, the lid blew off early. Last week, I bought a gallon of milk. The little plastic wrapper around the middle was decorated with trees and carolers and ice skating children. I squealed with glee. Literally. And then I figured, if the milk can be excited about Christmas, so can I. I'm gonna let my holly jolly flag fly. It's Christmas! And it's the most wonderful time of the year!
Not so many moons ago, I found myself in Paris while backpacking across Western Europe. I fell in love with all that it was, old and lovely and oh so Paris. I wandered the streets, climbed the Eiffel Tower, and swooned over the pâtisseries. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a well-appointed baked good. I ate pastries with absolute relish. I fell head over heels for crêpes too hot to bite into. Languored over pain au chocolat and bowls of coffee. And then there were the macarons. Whole towers of them, winking and enticing me from the glistening windows of Ladurée. They were just the most exquisite, perfect little bites of joy that I had ever sank my teeth into. I dream about them to this day.
A couple of moons later, I found myself in Paris again. This time, it was a blink of the eye- a layover on my way to Rome (don't I just sound so glamorously jet setting? ha!). We were held up in customs forever, and I had just enough time to grab a Vogue from the newsstand in my terminal before my flight took off. There would be no macarons this trip. Sorrows over the absentee macarons were swiftly drowned in copious amounts of gelato, and all was well and forgotten. For the moment.
The other day, my delightful aunt returned from Paris with a little gift. I am a happy girl.
I love me a good striped shirt. I really do. I have an entire wardrobe full of them to prove it. Long sleeves, short sleeves, tank tops. Paired with cuffed jeans, cigarette pants, or my beloved old denim mini skirt. Finished with flip flops, boots, or ballet flats. Striped shirts are my perfect everyday go-to.
Normally, I like my stripes to have a boatneck and 3/4 sleeves. But sometimes it's fun to switch it up. Any of these would do nicely. Particularly the sequined J.Crew number-I can think of at least a dozen ways to rock that baby!
This is a new world, this one in which I have this little blog. A new world in which I'm still looking for a proper foot hold. What should I use it to talk about? Me? Surely not, I'm dull and boring! My little shop? That, too, would get rather boring rather fast! Inspirations, pretty things? Thoughts and grand plans? A means by which to vent frustrations? Perhaps a happy balance of all of the above. Yes yes, I think that would do nicely! A dash of pretty, a sprinkle of grand aspirations, and a pinch of me. Eventually, maybe this thing will start to take shape. Bear with me, dear readers, as I try to gain my footing in this strange new world.
Happy Friday to you, dear readers! Do you have fabulous weekend plans? The weatherman is promising some gorgeous weather here. I plan to take advantage of that. Wherever you are, and whatever the weather, make time for a bit of gorgeous this weekend. xo
Happy Thursday, dear readers! Let's just jump into it, shall we? Without further ado, part two of my chat with James Lipton:
James Lipton: What sound do you hate? Bee: People eating loudly. Chewing, slurping, mouth opened, yuck. It skeeves me.
J.L.: What is your favorite curse word? Bee: Well, seeing as how I'm often in the company of tiny ears with a penchant for repeating, I need watch what I say, and what I most often say is a version of eff. Effer. Effing. Flipping. Flip. Frick. You get the picture.
J.L.: What profession, other than yours, would you like to attempt? Bee: Archaeology. It fascinates me. My dream from the age of about 7 was to visit Pompeii. A few years ago, I did, and I was like a kid in a candy store. The idea of this entire city being buried for over a thousand years, and then slowly being rediscovered with such painstaking care, just blows my mind. It's the discovery. I suppose it's why I have such an affinity for antiques. I can't get enough of that stuff.
J.L.: What profession would you not like to do? Bee: I don't think I'd enjoy driving an ambulance very much.
J.L.: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Bee: Welcome. Bar's open. And then I'd saunter over and have a cocktail with all of the loved ones I've missed for so long.
Thank you again, Mr. James Lipton. That was fun. And now, dear readers, you know just a bit about me. It'll do.
It's occurred to me, dear readers, that perhaps, seeing as how I've invited you along on this journey of mine, that I should take a moment to allow you to get to know me. I've already told you about Bee, and how we wound up here, but I haven't told you about me. And I'm a bit hesitant to do so. It's not that I don't want us to know each other, dear readers, it's just that I'm a bit private. I mean, a girl's gotta have her secrets, right? Keep a bit of mystery about her? I like you, though. So I've decided to let you have a bit of a peek into my world.
Now, in addition to being private, I'm also a bit shy, and not the best at getting conversations started. Oh, I'm good in a conversation that's already taken flight, but not so ace at starting them. So I've decided to invite along a friend today to help get this ball rolling. Dear readers, allow me to introduce Mr. James Lipton, who will be introducing me by way of his famous questionnaire, borrowed from Bernard Pivot.
Good morning, James Lipton! And thank you so much for stopping by to help me today. Let's get started, shall we?
James Lipton: What is your favorite word? Bee: Good question, James. I'd say it's probably facetious. My humor tends to run dry, and I like to point out the obvious by utilizing a bit of facetiousness. J.L.: What is your least favorite word? Bee: It's "siren." I hate that word. And I can't pronounce it, so I won't. I say that an emergency vehicle went by blaring it's "WOO! WOO!" I'm also not overly fond of the word "moist." J.L.: What turns you on? Bee: I'm going to assume we're talking creatively here, James. In which case, color and good design. And old things. I go absolutely ape in front of a wall of paint chips, or when turned loose in a really good flea market or antique mall. I tune out everything else around me, and my mind starts racing with possibility. It's a rush that's all at once euphoric and overwhelming. It's the best.
And just in case you weren't talking creatively, tall men with a wicked sense of humor ;) J.L.: What turns youu off? Bee: Ignorance, close-mindedness, an unwillingness to learn from or accept differences. J.L.: What sound or noise do you love? Bee: The quiet that comes with stillness. There's always sound in that quiet, whether it's the ocean; the chatter of birds and critters; the sounds of the house in the dead of night, settling into itself after all of the years of sheltering life and families; or even the sound of traffic and people passing by the windows. They are the sounds of peace and contentment, and I love that.
At this point, James Lipton and I decide to take a break. There are beds to make and laundry to wash, and pretty things waiting to be made. Please come back tomorrow, dear readers, and I will bring you part two of our delightful conversation.
Hello, dear readers! I thought today it might be nice to introduce Bee to you, since I'm hoping we're going to be spending lots of time together!
(Bee Vintage Redux)
I'm Heather, and I make things. Lovely things. At least, I think they're lovely. (Judge for yourselves!). I was one of two Heather B.'s in my kindergarten class, the second alphabetically. Heather 1 got to be just Heather, and I was Heather B. I liked that, it was special. I insisted on being called Heather B. all the time. Eventually, my parents started calling me Bee, and it's always stuck.
(business cards then, business cards now)
I've been making things since I was a small girl, and putting tags and business cards with the things I made, all with some sort of bee themed name. Hence, I named my little shop Bee Vintage Redux, because I take vintage and "redux" it, and I am Bee. (Confession- I'm not overly fond of the Vintage Redux part of the name, but it is what it is, and what it is it shall stay.)
The name Oh, Bee came from my sweet assistant, my dear baby nephew, The Boy. We have a book that we read together a lot. I mean, a LOT. We read it so much that we both have it memorized. It can be read to the tune of "Jingle Bells", which it quite frequently is. When we come to the OOOH! part that would come before the "jingle bells" part, we make a very big deal of it. Sometimes he just sings me the OOOH! part, and I substitute in a myriad of odd words. One day, one of the words was bee. And here we are.
There is so much more to tell you about this girl called Bee. Tomorrow, dear readers. I'll give you a peek into my world then. Perhaps I'll bring a friend along...
Oh, hello there! How lovely to find you here! But of course you're wondering, "Where is here, exactly?" Patience. We'll get to that, over time. First we need to find some footing. Perhaps we should begin with how we started out on this journey to here. Gather 'round, and I'll start the tale.
Once upon a time, way, way back in the early spring, a young girl found herself wondering what she should do with her life. She had some ideas, and, oh, they were big ideas. But this girl, she's more of a small actions type of girl. So she took some of these big ideas, and planted them in the ground, and started to tend to them with curiosity and all of her small actions.
Before long, one of the many big ideas the young girl had planted began to sprout. Surrounded by a flurry of very small actions, this tiny sprout blossomed into Bee Vintage Redux. The young girl (who had always been affectionately known as Bee to her closest family) stood back at smiled proudly at all of her hard work. But she knew that this big idea was still very small, and would need much more love and cultivation to grow into one of the big ideas she longed for it to be.
Of course, there were still other big ideas waiting for their chance to bloom. So the girl gathered up all of her small actions, and her tiny sprout, and set out further down the garden path, dropping small actions wherever she went. And that is where we find ourselves, dear readers, tending and growing, travelling onward and upward through this crazy garden. Watching and hoping for all of these small ideas turn into big realities that I can't wait to share with you. I hope you'll come with me on this journey and allow you to share with you my trials and tribulations, my ideas and inspirations, the things I love, and the occasional amusing tale. I'm not quite sure where I'm going or how I'll get there, but it would be such a pleasure to bring you all along.